Average gradient: 7.1%
Elevation gain: 811m
The climb to the highest point in the Grampians National Park is one of the most rewarding ascents in the entire state, but it’s also among the most challenging. The first section of the climb might be easy enough but the final stretch to the summit is brutally steep on a narrow track that’s lashed by strong winds.
The Mt. William climb starts at the intersection of Mt. William Road and Grampians Road (C216), roughly 13km south of Halls Gap.
The full Mt. William climb ends at the communications station at the summit. An alternative is to climb only as far as the carpark, thereby skipping the steep final 1.9km to the summit.
At a glance
- A climb in two parts, with a consistent opening section and a very tough final section.
- There’s a false-flat from the 5.7km mark to the 6.9km mark.
- The first section is 9.6km long, averages 6.4% and ends at the carpark.
- The final 1.9km after the carpark rises at an average of 10.8%.
- The steepest section is a sharp left-hander at 10.1km which reaches a maximum of 29%.
The gradient settles in at around 5-6% as you leave the main road behind and within a kilometre of the start you’re already starting to get a taste of the amazing views to come as the tree cover opens up slightly to the right.
The gradient is consistent in these opening kilometres, fluctuating only briefly as you kick out of corners, or in brief flatter sections. There’s a flat section after 1.7km and a brief increase in the gradient (to about 8-9%) as the road bends around to the right after 1.9km. And then when the road heads back around to the left after 2.0km the gradient kicks to 8-9% before settling back in to around 6%.
As you wind gently up the hill you’ll catch glimpses of the great views on the right of the road, and these only get better as you get higher up. After a series of bends, the road curls left after 3.5km, leaving the views behind for the moment. For the next few kilometres, the gradient fluctuates as the roads winds gently up the hill.
After 5km of climbing the tree cover thins right out and the impressive views return. And 100m later you’ll catch your first glimpse of the communications station at the very top of Mt. William.
After a series of turns and slight gradient changes, you’ll bend around to the right after 5.7km at which point the road flattens off quite noticeably. This false-flat section runs through to the 6.9km mark in which time you’ll pass through a right-hand switchback, you’ll enjoy the best views of the climb so far and you’ll get another look at the comms station at the summit. It’s at this point that you’ll see, for the first time, just how steep the final section of climbing to the summit actually is.
With the false-flat finished after 6.9km of climbing you’ll get start to realise just how narrow and exposed the road is. The road clings to the ridgeline with little protection for wayward vehicles, but the views are exceptional.
After 7km you’ll see the comms station dead ahead once more and you’ll likely get the feeling that you’ve made little vertical progress at all — it still seems so far away.
A tight left-hand bend after 7.9km kicks the gradient up to about 10% briefly, while also opening up some great views on the left-hand side of the road. They don’t last long though and nor does the increased gradient, as the road flattens back to a more familiar 6-7%.
After several kilometres of consistent climbing you’ll bend right at 9.5km into the Mt. William Carpark. This is the top of the open road — to continue to the summit you’ll need to pass around the gate at the far end of the carpark and start making your way up the narrow access track.
This final 1.9km section of the climb is extremely steep in places and has an average gradient in excess of 10%. It is considerably harder than the climb thus far so if you decide to continue on to the summit, be prepared for some tough climbing.
Just before the gate the gradient starts ramping right up and it only continues to do so once you head around the gate and follow the road around to the left. As the road straightens out, after 9.8km, the gradient gradually starts to increase from around 10% to above 20% a few hundred metres later.
There’s a sharp left-hand bend after 10.1km and the final 100m before that bend averages close to 20%. And the steepest part of the left-hand bend has a maximum gradient just short of 30%. It’s painfully steep and extremely challenging, even if you’re using a compact chain ring.
Around the corner the gradient eases to around 15% which feels quite easy after the exertions of the previous section. And after 10.2km, the road bends sharply around to the right, the gradient sitting at around 14% in the process.
At 10.3km you bend around to the left as the views return after a few-hundred-metre hiatus. What follows is a nice straight section of climbing with the gradient hovering around 10% before a sharp, right-hand hairpin after 10.6km of climbing. At this point the views really open up and you get a full 180º panorama to take in.
You’ll actually get a chance to appreciate the views at this point because, for the first time since leaving the carpark, the gradient drops below 10%. The respite is short-lived however, with the gradient increasing to beyond 10% again just 100m later, as the road sweeps around to the left.
As the road straightens out the communications station is visible directly ahead of you. It might still seem like it’s a long way away, but in reality you’ve only got 800m to go.
At the 11km mark the road kinks around to the right slightly, the gradient still above 10%, and as you approach the final corner the gradient increases to roughly 13%.
At the 11.4km mark you bend left, the gradient hovering painfully above 10% in the final push to the summit. And then the road flattens off ever so briefly as you approach the fenced-off communications station which marks the summit of Mt. William.
This profile was created using Strava Routes.
Mt. William is located in the Grampians National Park, roughly 270km north west of Melbourne. The start of the climb is located 13km south of the town of Halls Gap, the biggest town in the region.
Visitors coming to the Grampians via Melbourne should take the Western Highway past Ballarat to Ararat. From there, it’s a choice of the road through Moyston and Pomonal (Ararat-Halls Gap Road) or the Western Highway through to Stawell before taking the Grampians Road (C216) through to Halls Gap.
Take great care on the descent of Mt William. The road is very narrow throughout with blind corners, potholes and strong winds, particularly near the summit. Be watchful for local wildlife as well, wallabies in particular, which can jump out on to the road unexpectedly, particularly around dawn and dusk.